Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
The House of Representatives Thursday ordered the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to immediately suspend the implementation of its cashless policy on deposits exceeding certain threshold until extensive consultations with stakeholders have been concluded.
The House has therefore mandated its Committee on Banking and Currency to interface with the CBN to ascertain the propriety or otherwise of its implementation in view of the prevailing economic situation in the country.
The committee is to report back to the House within four weeks for further legislative actions.
This followed the adoption of a motion by the Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Benjamin Kalu, moved under matters of urgent public importance, at yesterday’s plenary.
The apex bank had on Wednesday commenced the implementation of new charges in Lagos, Ogun, Kano, Abia, Anambra, and Rivers states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), with plans for nationwide implementation of the policy on March 31, 2020.
The new CBN policy stipulates the payment of 3 per cent processing fee for withdrawals and 2 per cent for lodgments of amounts above N500,000 for individual accounts, and 5per cent processing fee for withdrawals and 3 per cent fee for lodgments of amounts above N3,000,000 in the case of corporate accounts.
However, Kalu, in his lead debate, said the apex commenced the implementation of the new policy without consultation with stakeholders and consideration of the likely impact on the citizens.
The lawmaker recalled that the CBN introduced a policy on cash-based transactions which imposed a cash handling charge on daily cash withdrawals that exceed #1500000 for individuals and $18,000,000 for corporate bodies in 2012.
According to him, “the policy on cash-based transactions (withdrawals) in banks, was aimed at reducing and not eliminating the amount of physical cash (coins and notes) circulating in the economy, and encouraging more electronic-based transactions (payments for goods, services, transfers, etc).”
Regardless, he noted that despite the intended benefits of the cashless policy, its implementation has led to significant decrease in deposit mobilisation and credit extension by Nigerian Money Deposit Banks.
Kalu added that “ the implementation of cashless policy on withdrawals has negative impacts on micro, mini, small, and medium enterprises which are clearly the engine room for growth of the economy and employment generation, thereby throwing many of them out of business and sending more Nigerians into poverty, thus forcing more traders and micro investors to carry cash about with its attendant security challenges.
“While the impact of the cashless policy on withdrawals is still starring us all in our faces as well as other numerous burdensome charges by Money Deposit Banks heavily impacting on businesses, the CBN deemed it necessary to impose the implementation of cashless policy on deposits, without due consultations with all shades of stakeholders who will be impacted by the policy.”
The lawmaker, while calling on the House to intervene in the issue, said the policy will enriched banks,owned by a privileged few, at the detriment of the citizens.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives, yesterday, charged the Federal Government to provide bailout fund for ailing private and public owned industries in the country. The Green Chamber said the bailout should be applied through the Bank of Industry, the Bank of Agriculture, the Nigerian Export /Import Bank at a single digit interest rate with a 3 – year moratorium.
According to the House, the move is aimed at resuscitating the industries, so as to address the challenge of unemployment in the country. The Green chamber also charged the government to to improve the capacity of the Nigerian Directorate of Employment (NDE), as well as embark on massive vocational trainings across the country.